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] the most famous order, the benedictine, was founded by saint benedict in the sixth century. his great rule--poverty, chastity, and obedience-- insisted on a life devoted to manual labor... devoted to prayer and to the copying and interpretation of the sacred texts. decorating these books was an act of devotion. during the middle es, sumptuous manuscript illumations were the most important form of painting in western art. by 1100, endowed with massive grants of land from kings and nobles, the great orders-- the benedictine, the cluniac, the cistercian-- held virtual monastic empires across europe, powerful patrons of art and architecture. this beautiful building is the priory church of paray-le-monial. it is, in fact, a perfect example of cluniac romanesque architecture at the height of its powers. where does the term romanesque come from? like many other widely used words in the history of art, like "impressionism" or "gothic," "romanesque" began its life as a derogatory term. historians in the early 19th century thought that the massive pillars and great vaults of romanesque buildings loo
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